Squirrel!

It’s like goddamn Wild Kingdom in this apartment.

Yesterday I woke up, started my usual half awake bumbling about in the kitchen.  I was doing last night’s dishes when I heard something weird and scratchy in the living room.

I walk out and both cats are fascinated by the radiator.  Tim is pawing under it and Bijou is on top, pawing down.

SIGH.

I go over and it’s A GODDAMN SQUIRREL.

That door to the balcony had been open 5 minutes maximum.  5 minutes.  I imagine it was eating the last tomatoes of the season and Tim ran out and like a moron it ran into the apartment instead of down the side of the building like any reasonable squirrel would have.

This squirrel (or a similarly cheeky one) has been a pain in my ass for 2 years.  And it’s capped the whole show by showing up in my damn living room.

So I opened the door wider and threw 2 very offended cats into the bedroom.  Bijou in particular gave me a good growly talking to on the subject.  Tim had a more dignified acceptance of his fate.

I gave that squirrel 45 minutes to figure his escape out.  I figured if he didn’t, I would get involved – which was probably a bad plan, but HEY.  It’s not like getting bitten by a squirrel scares me.  I’m now IMMUNE to RABIES.  Who knew it would come in handy?

Squirrel 1 : Sara 0

Possibly Sara -1.

I went out to check on Squirrel 45 minutes later.  It was up in the bars of the radiator still.  Apparently 45 minutes of open safe escape route was not sufficient.

So I decided to drag him out.

I got a broom handle and tried to gently push him.  But let me tell you.  Squirrels are VERY strong.  And because I’m very worried about hurting him I wasn’t going to push too hard.  Plus he made adorable growly grumbles.  Which didn’t do him any harm in making me feel more sympathetic to him.

I finally got him nearly to a place I could grab him and he scuttled back into the radiator grid.

I think he was fully prepared to die there.

So I grabbed his tail and pulled, hoping to drag him out by main force. The screams he emitted could be heard 3 streets away.  They were enough to stop that plan – although it honestly seemed like the most likely solution.

I retreated to the bedroom.  The cats were looking at me like I murdered someone.  They no doubt heard the squirrel scream.

Possibly they were offended that I took care of the murder without them.  It’s hard to tell with cats.

I’m not sure what to do at this point.  I have to leave for work at 11:30ish.  I was not keen on leaving the door wide open when I left.  But I wasn’t sure if I had a choice.

Sigh.  I wonder if I should call off due to squirrel crisis.  That would be utterly ridiculous.

I mean, the odds of anything bad happening due to the open door are mostly small – and hopefully once he gets over himself, he will leave.  And hopefully no other vermin will invade in the meantime.

I made a second attempt to make the squirrel leave later in the morning before leaving for work.   I achieved nothing but changing his position in the radiator and getting the broom bitten.

So  when I went to work, I left the balcony door open, and blocked off the rest of the house, kept the cats locked in the bedroom with litter, water, and food.

But it made me anxious.  Not least because I normally get home after dark and we all know that bats are prone to fly into my apartment.

So I left work early at 6pm and got home while it was still light.  The squirrel was gone.  The cats did a thorough check and there is no squirrel.  I was so relieved.

I am considering burning the apartment down if anymore vermin invade.

My co-workers were joking about a raccoon moving in next and honestly I wouldn’t even be surprised at this point if a raccoon showed up.

I love this apartment, but it’s starting to lose it’s loveliness in the light of the constant vermin.

 

Nesting

Even though it doesn’t feel like it, it is Fall.  And Fall brings out a nesting instinct in me.

I want to create a cozy space for the winter.

So I spent money.  This is not something I generally like to do.  But Macys was having a great sale!  20% off clearance.

So I bought a bed in a bag and will soon have a new cozy bedroom.  I have an extra check in October.  I intended to spend it on a sofa.  I have a mostly empty living room with nothing to sit on. But I got distracted by the comforters and one thing led to another.  It was a great deal though, so I still have money for the sofa, but possibly not the rug.

Or I may not spend the money.  I find the savings account very cozy too.  I live in fear of two things – have an emergency without the funds to cover it.  And having people judge me for spending money frivolously.  Only one of those is sane.

I have no idea why it bothers me what ANYONE might think of the way I spend money.   Reality is that they don’t even think about it.  But I think I have been self identifying as “poor” for long enough that spending money on unnecessary things feels like I’m a hypocrite.  But, I’m no longer quite so poor.  I have enough money in every check to save a decent chunk.  But I still think of myself as poor.

Perhaps because I grew up without any money concerns.  Which taught me NO money skills.  When I moved out of the house I was poor.  I just didn’t know it.  And was constantly overspending and getting myself into financial trouble.   Even as I made more money I just felt like I could spend more.

It wasn’t until I became homeless that I recognized the dangers of being poor.  That radically changed how I managed money.  Now I’m frugal in my daily life.  It’s amazing how the daily choices we make can save money.  Bringing lunch to work instead of buying lunch.  Bringing pop to work instead of buying pop.  Not buying every whim.  But sadly my biggest savings came because I’m not social.  Having a social life can be expensive.  I stayed at home, I didn’t go to happy hours or movies or dinners.  All of those choices allowed me to live in a very small income but never to save money.

But for a while now I’ve been bringing home more than I spend and have been saving.  And also spending more.  I go out to eat with a friend about once a month.  I have been more willing to buy new clothing.  And now I’m thinking of dipping into the savings to buy major things.  And the thing that sticks most on that is what other people will think.

Intellectually I know that the savings serves a function and I should preserve this check for the unexpected.  But emotionally I’m worried about what the neighbors will think if I have a sofa delivered.  They are all financially strapped.  It also feels like I don’t belong here anymore if I can afford to buy a sofa?  It’s a weird and entirely irrational feeling.

This off projected shame is ridiculous.  I’m not going spend based on what other people think.  I earned this money, it’s mine and having a living room I can use is not frivolous, it’s just life.

 

 

 

The Bat and Rabies Saga

So.  Saturday before last I woke up to a bat in my kitchen.  Just hanging on the wall, sleeping.  img_20180908_115122550After I screamed like an idiot, I retreated to my bedroom to consider my position and to wish heartily and deeply that the damn bat would just disappear.

It didn’t.  So after a bit of googling and asking tumblr for advice, I decided I would block off the kitchen with a sheet over the doorway and open the window.  The bat would then go out the window and all my problems would be gone.

So I set up by bat escape plan and made lots of noise doing it and the bat never moved.  The cats and I spent the day locked in the bedroom and I checked on the bat periodically and it continue to not move.  Eventually it got dark and I went in to check on it and it was gone.  HOWEVER,  the sheet had fallen partially down.  So, there was no way to be sure it left.  I checked all over the apartment, but couldn’t find him.  And finally decided, it  left.  I mean there was an escape into nature right there.  Why would it head into the apartment instead?

It was at this point that my brain began to connect some dots.  When I woke up Saturday Morning, the kitten had two tiny scratches of  blood on his nose.  I had blamed her Calico Highness and gave her a stern lecture on being gentle with delicate kittens.  But.  Then I realized that while I was asleep that bat was flying about the house and a bratty grey kitten had seen it and thought it was a magnificent play thing.  And been bitten for his trouble.

I had then taken the kitten into the bedroom to wait out the bat escape plan.  And as kittens are wont to do, it played with me.  And scratched and bit me.  Not so unusual.  Nothing I would even have given a second thought.  But. It turns out that in this area bats are the most likely carriers of rabies.  How nice.

Now the kitten had an updated vaccine, but I didn’t know if that was only to keep it safe but would it stop the virus from just jumping over to me?  Sigh.  I should have caught the bat instead of setting up it’s escape.

So I spent Sunday in an ever increasing level of anxiety over my potential death by rabies.  And because it was Sunday, I couldn’t call the doctor or the vet or the public health officials.

But then Sunday Night, there was a crash and I open the bedroom door – Bat is flying around the damn apartment.  I ran to open the window – my first instinct was to rid my life of the bat.  But then I remembered – I’m supposed to catch the bat.  So I instead I caught the bat.  It landed on the ground and I just put a tupperware on it and slid a place mat under it.  And I caught a bat.

I took him the to SPCA on Monday Morning, and left a message for the doctor and the vet.  The SPCA was not very informative about how I would find out if the bat had rabies.  “I don’t know what happens to them after we ship them out.”  Great.

The vet told me the kitten would be fine.  The doctor told me I had to get a rabies shot.  And that the only place to get a rabies shot is at the ER.  So I had to leave work and go the ER.  That was 6 hours of unenjoyable life.  Most of it just waiting.

If you are interested in how rabies vaccine works, let me tell you.  First they give immunoglobulin, in and around the place you were bitten.  In my case that was many places on my forearm.  So they had two large syringes and two nurses and both of them gave me dozens and dozens of injections in my arm.  I was bleeding from them.  Then they sent in another nurse who gave me 4 more injections.  One in each shoulder and one in each hip.

AND THEN.  There are 3 follow up shots, I had the 2nd one today.  But having said all of that, it’s actually not as bad as it sounds.  It really wasn’t overly painful.  Even the ones in my forearm.  The ER was mostly annoying for the long wait.  The follow ups happen in a pharmacology clinic and the parking is more annoying than the shot.  And all the people have been super nice and kind.

And what is most annoying is that the chances that I could have gotten rabies are so very tiny.  But if you get rabies and don’t get the vaccine before the symptoms – 100% death rate.  And to be honest, getting the vaccines curbed a rampaging anxiety that was consuming me over that weekend.  Particularly since no matter how many different people at the hospital I told this unlikely story to, all of them were – Yeah you need to get the vaccine.

Oh, also my cat got quarantined by Cincinnati Public Heath Dept.  keep-out-quarantine-caution-sign-s-6379 It sounds worse than it is.  He’s just not allowed out and no one is allowed in.  And since that is the normal situation here, it’s not really a thing.  Tomorrow an official from the Public Heath Department is visiting me to see if my cat is still alive.  If he is, I guess they release him from quarantine.  And nothing will change.

So.   By next Monday I will be fully immune to Rabies.  So that’s nice.

I’m not fond of bats.

Trying new systems.

I’m always trying to make my life work better.   Which is often an internal struggle against the stillness that my depression prefers.

So now I’m trying To Do apps on my phone.  The one I’m currently using is called Todoist.

I like to do lists.  I find writing out a list of things I have to do makes them less daunting.

When things I must do are just swimming in and out of my mind, they tend to get into log jams and I become stressed about how MUCH THERE IS TO DO!  😣

Usually when I sit down and make the list, it’s not as much as I felt it was.  And it all suddenly becomes manageable.  And I don’t have that feeling of did I forget to do something?

I like checklists for that reason to.  I am very good at forgetting to do a thing even though it’s a thing I do all the time.  At work, I need to have checklists or I will often forget a step.

But back to my new app.  I’ve decided I want the app to have an alarm.  Because I don’t pay enough attention to my phone to notice when I have notifications.  I can literally go for days without looking at it.  People get cranky with me.  But if there was a noise to tell me to get me off my butt and do the thing it might help.

In this case I just put in my daily chore around the house.  I don’t usually just CLEAN the house.  I do one bigger chore a day.  It never looks pristine, but it’s usually quite pleasant.

Or it used to be before Rebel Tim showed up.  He’s a walking chaos machine.  I can put away his toys, but by that evening all 10 balls he owns are out of the basket and strewn about the apartment like he held some kind of ball related rave while I was at work.   Plus, he is slowly destroying the box spring.  It has a thin layer of stuffing lining it.  He pulls out the stuffing.  So I have stuffing all over the damn apartment.  I no longer give him stuffed toys for that reason.

Again, I wandered off topic.  Sorry.  Anyway, if the app had an alarm at say 9:30 am, I think it would work better for me.   I like almost everything else about ToDoist.  I’m considering seriously committing and buying the premium.  If you want an app to last you have to support the people who make it.   I can always set up alarms separately in my phone, I guess. The system is starting to feel complicated at that point.   Honestly, the phone app is more cumbersome than just a paper and pen.  But then you have to figure out where to put the paper to remind you…

grrrr.

If only you spoke Hovitos.

It’s the classic Indiana Jones Evil Villain Wins line.

But it’s also shorthand for: if only you knew the terrain and the culture better. ie – if only you studied a bit harder.  It’s a brutal own.

It’s also real.  If you know more, you can leverage it better.  It’s the same strategy that gets Jones out of Egypt when the Nazis are chasing him.  He knows more.  He has more connections.

But it’s real in life too.  Most of us just know whatever is necessary for us to cope with our job.  We don’t try to know more.  We don’t want to know what other people in our company do.  We don’t want to know what happens before and after us in the work flow.  We don’t question why we have to do things the way we do.

But the way I have done well in jobs is to know more.  To work hard and understand how what I do matters.  To understand the bigger context.  I ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes that gets perceived as a judgement by the people I’m asking.  But if you ask outside of problem situations or ask people not responsible for the problem, mostly people want to talk about what they do and what they know.  Asking them is just easy.  Listening and Learning and recognizing the pattern in the knowledge is what is helpful.

The next time you wonder why things aren’t going well at work.  Ask yourself – Do you speak Hovitos?

Admittedly, it requires patience. Don’t be afraid to ask – even if you don’t know the knowledge holder. It also requires effort at proving you are somebody worthy of respect.  If they think you slack all day they will not be as forthcoming with anything but gripes.  Which also have value but don’t teach as much.  You have to earn respect by working.  Doing small extra things that make another person’s job easier, is also helpful at making them want to share knowledge when asked.

But once you speak Hovitos, it helps in so many ways.  And the absolutely PRIMARY one is that it makes the job feel more meaningful.  It makes what you do matter more.  I used to get satisfaction from feeling like I was helping people with a fundamental need in their life, financial security.

Now I work for a transportation company.  It feels far less important.  At first I wondered how I would feel that was meaningful beyond keeping me from being homeless.   But it turns out, it’s almost easier.

A)  Travel is a direct impact experience.  How well I do my job directly affects how well someone’s day is going to be.  And if you’ve ever missed a plane, you know exactly how meaningful that impact is.

B) How I do my job affects other people at the company.  And I think we don’t emphasize that enough.  Skipping a thing you think is small and unimportant can cause a great deal of undue frustration to someone downstream in the workflow.  Doing your job well makes a huge difference to someone else’s job / day going well. Often the things that seem oddly silly and useless are designed to make someone’s job downstream far easier.  Both of those things have direct impacts on the lives of people. Doing them right is important. Those things make my job meaningful.

But I only am aware of that because I speak Hovitos.  ie. I took the time to think and ask about it.

It matters.  Speak Hovitos.  Not just because your career will be better. MOSTLY because how you feel about your job and therefore your life will improve by magnitudes.  SPEAK HOVITOS.

Addicted to the Dot.

My cats are addicted to the laser dot.

It’s problematic in that I keep 2 lasers hanging on bedside table.  Every morning, I let the cats into my bedroom and they begin a quest to reach the lasers.

I’m not a fan of playing laser dot.  It eventually cramps my fingers from pressing the button and it’s awkward to run two different dots in two different parts of the room.

But they won’t share a dot.  And Tim is ruder than Bijou, he is entirely focused on the chase and has no boundaries when the chase is on.  Her calico highness will just sit back and wait for him unless it’s directly in front of her.  But that means she gets very little fun or exercise from the dot.  So I usually have two going at once.

It’s the quest to reach the lasers that is annoying.  Because I’m between them and the bedside table.  More accurately, I’m the path they prefer to the bedside table.  They could just jump up from the floor, but that isn’t quite so annoying and therefore not Good Cat Policy.

And then once on the table there is a great deal of pushing and biting at the pointer as though this will some how create a dot that they can chase.  This often involves knocking things over and is noisy.

They understand I’m the one moving the dot.  It’s not a mystery to them.  They still adore it.  Lily loved the dot as a kitten until she realized it wasn’t real and that I was the one creating the moving dot.  Then she lost interest entirely and never did more than watch it with bored disinterest.

But they get it fully and still ADORE the dot.  Related image

Work and Kittens and Medical Tests

So I changed jobs a couple of months ago.  Same company, different department.  I work in Billing now.  Accounting.  It’s fun to learn new things.  The actual job though is often tedious.   However because they are working in a crazy old fashioned system and because the people who work in the department aren’t really trained bookkeepers (myself included) it’s all kind of crazypants.   Yesterday we discovered a rather large error that made my stomach hurt as I was auditing the bill and finding more and more not right.

I am a LONG WAY from perfect in my work life, but I have this ideal of what things SHOULD BE.  And sometimes I internalize it, so when I see a mess like that it makes me stressed even when I’m not the person who made the mess.  Maybe more so out of empathetic stress for the person who quite unwittingly caused the problem.  Because I’ve never met anyone who deliberately messes up.  We all want to do our jobs well.

I feel like we need to change things up on how we process the work, but I’m the new girl so it’s definitely not my place to direct that and I’m not even sure what would be the best solution.  So.

+++++++++

The kitten is a panter.  Like a dog pants.  He runs around like a banshee and then jumps on my lap panting.  It’s SUPER adorable.  But it’s odd too.  I mean I’ve seen cats pant, but generally it’s rare.   Tim pants daily.  Probably several times a day.  After each session of zoomies he’s panting.  I’m wondering if there is something wrong or if that’s just his little quirk.

So naturally I looked it up.  The list of potential medical issues is very disturbing.  I am now considering taking him to the vet.  Because even though it’s only after exercise, it’s also ALWAYS after exercise.   We can’t have him be sick.  It’s not allowed.  He’s the young one.  Also Bijou and I have grown exceptionally fond of the little brat.

++++++++++++++

So, I’ve been having chest pains.  Daily.  I’m fairly sure it’s anxiety, but it’s there.  And I have other risk factors.  My father and both grandfathers died of heart disease.  I’m overweight.  I have high blood pressure that I control with meds.  I don’t exercise.  I eat terribly.  I’m basically a walking statistic.  So I told the doctor on my last check up.  She ran an EKG in the office and there was one odd thing on it that could or could not mean something.

So she ordered a stress test with echo.  I scheduled it.  And then they called me to tell me that insurance wouldn’t cover that test.  How nice.  My doctor specifically told me she was ordering that test because it is much better at catching heart issues in women.  But I guess it’s more expensive and so now I have get a different, no doubt inferior, test.  This has naturally led to more anxiety and chest pains continue.  I don’t get the test for a couple of weeks because that’s how the urgent things work in health care.

Still, I think if it was my heart I would be dead already because it’s literally daily for periods of an hour or more.  So it’s probably anxiety or possibly it’s GERD.  We will see. Or not since I’m getting an inferior test.

everything is fine

 

 

 

Watering the Beasts

rebel tim

Above us is the Rebel, Tim.  He is usually referred to as The Kitten.  But I think he’s all grown up now.  He’s not a big cat though, so I will probably always call him The Kitten.

He’s excellent at distracting me from my chores and just generally being in the way.  In other words, he cats very well.

One of his peculiarities is that he insists on drinking his water just when he knows I will be picking it up to change it.  I’m not sure why.  It’s not because he prefers the old water because he will also immediately drink the fresh.  I’m pretty sure it’s because he knows I will stop and wait for him.  And any action that causes me to change direction or pause is  GOOD CAT POLICY.

Recently I’ve taken to putting a giant ice cube in the water bowl.  I don’t actually have an ice cube tray.  I freeze water in solo cups.  I keep two standard size cups frozen and one small dixie cup frozen.  I put the dixie one in the cat’s water.  It bobs around and makes for an excellent distracting toy and he likes to lick it.  Bijou shows zero interest.  She’s above such things.  Royalty does not deem to notice icebergs in water bowls.

Seeing that he is interested in water generally, I decided a water fountain would probably work well.  So I bought one.  Naturally, since I’ve invested money he just stares, doesn’t drink.  At least so far.  I really need for it to work because I’m supposed to take a small trip and this water fountain will make me feel less worried about the water situation with the cats.  It has a large reservoir and a filter.  So I think it will keep fresh water for up to 4 days.  And hopefully I won’t be gone more than 3.

The more you rely on cat’s reacting a certain way, the less they are reliable.  sigh.

img_20180321_103801028_hdr
Here’s a young Tim, involving himself in my interests. 🙂  

 

The life I live in my imagination

It varies.

Sometimes I have a snug little homestead of 3-10 acres.  It has an orchard with apples, pears, peaches and maples.

It has a small bit of land for wheat – because I’m insane and dream of growing my own bread.

It has a magnificent vegetable and herb garden.

And naturally it has chickens.  They are content chickens doing chicken sorts of things and helping me make compost.

But sometimes, I dream of living aboard a boat.  This is nearly the antithesis of a homestead.  I want to wander about the world on my boat.  Perhaps I will have a fairly anemic tomato or a small effort at herbs.  But that sort of thing really doesn’t work on a boat.

My ideal boat doesn’t exist.  I want the boat to be able to navigate rivers and canals as well as oceans.  In case you didn’t know those are things that require different sorts of boats.  Sometimes just because humans have built bridges too low and mostly because a boat safe at ocean should have a minimum draft so it doesn’t capsize in high seas.  That doesn’t always work in inland waterways.

I want it all.  I want to have a boat with a garden that can cross the pacific and travel up the Yangtze or the Danube or the Thames.  And then I want it to be able to cross into those fabulous man made waterways that are left from a bygone era but that show you the insides of a country in ways that natural rivers don’t dream of.

Sadly most of the man made canals are no longer navigable.  Few countries invested money in their maintenance after their commercial value was nil.   But some still exist and call the boater to the interior of a country, where the fields and wilderness border the canal.

It’s my dream.  To travel indefinitely around the world by water.

Of course, neither plan is practical to my lived life.  I don’t have the money and will never be forced to decide between boats and homesteading.  And the imaginary boat that can cross oceans and glide easily in narrow shallow canals is sadly mythical.

But let’s assume all options are available.  And I’m suddenly the winner of a lottery.  I wonder if I would choose the boat.  It’s risk.  It’s constant unending change.  The homestead is safe and warm and if not utterly predictable, it has more stability than the the boating life.  I fear that given all my dreams, I might easily choose the safest option.

I’m a creature of tradition and safety.  I would choose practical reality.

But at night, as I’m falling asleep, I imagine my trip through the Grand Canal of China or the winding relaxation of a trip through Great Britain’s canals or the gorgeous views from Europe’s waterways.

Image result for uk canals

But don’t discount the homestead.  It’s a satisfying and good life.

It may not be gorgeous lights and locales but there is something deeply satisfying in working with natural rhythm of things to make food.

Image result for chicken yard making compost edible acres

I could be happy either way.  However unbrave I may be, either option is worthy in it’s own right.

Balcony Gardening: The Battle.

The tomato has been planted in it’s ginormous pot.  Pot has been placed on it’s stand.  I have sustained a life threatening injury, that seemed minor in the whole accomplishment.

I cut myself.  There was not a knife within 20 yards of me, but I managed it on wire.  Rusty wire.  I expect to die by the end of the week.  But the tomato is outside in it’s home.

Flowers have been purchased.  I spent too much by going to a small local landscaping company that had a small selection of expensive flowers.  But all of them were in great shape and since I don’t really have a ton of space to fill, it really wasn’t outrageously expensive.  But key to the experience – NO CROWD.

Next Year: All plants with the exception of the tomato will be purchased in the pot they will live the rest of their life in.

No more repotting.

I dumped a nearly done planted pot on the ground, probably killing both plants in it.  It obviously needed to be repotted again.  I like putting things directly into the ground.  You can’t drop the ground.  Just saying.  I miss the ground.

I ruined a beloved t-shirt, possibly for even longer than til I wash it next.  Which won’t be today because instead of laundry I did balcony gardening.  Shut up.  Multi-tasking is a loser’s game.

I had a total of 6 plants to pot.  SIX.  In 4 pots.  And I made a mess that rivals people with gardens that cover acres.  And I still have to clean it up!! grrrrrr.

Also.  It’s not pretty.

More accurately,  it’s not as pretty as I magically thought it would be since I did not put any pre-thought into it and it shows.  Planning.  It’s so simple and generally enjoyable.  I’m not sure why I didn’t indulge in it.

Next year will be different.

I’m seriously considering throwing away every damn thing but the tomato, although it’s what I cut myself on.  And I still haven’t netted it.

Remember when I was excited to balcony garden??!!   I used to enjoy this.  I don’t know what happened.

drama llama